Strawberries, Spinach Top List of Produce With The Most Pesticide Residue

Strawberries and spinach top a recently-released list that identifies the produce that reaches your kitchen with the highest levels of pesticide. 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its “Dirty Dozen” list on March 8, warning that nearly three quarters of samples from conventional produce in the United States were contaminated with residues of one pesticide or more.

The EWG released their report after analyzing data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that tested random samples of 48 types of produce and found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on thousands of pieces of produce sampled.

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Researchers found that some pesticides and breakdowns remained on the products even after the fruits and vegetables were washed and peeled.

Results indicated the strawberries were the most contaminated sample with more than 20 different pesticides found. Spinach recorded the second most contaminated products after finding the samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Furthermore, roughly 75% of the spinach crops were found to be contaminated with a neurotoxic pesticide that was banned in Europe due to studies that have linked behavioral disorders in young children.

According to the researchers, nearly all samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide, all of which made the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

“Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children’s exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Philip Landrigan, of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, said in an EWG press release.

The EWG also released their “Clean Fifteen” list of fruits and vegetables that were found to have very little to no pesticide contamination. The list included sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.


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